We recently presented the first installment of Intelligrated's new On The Move webinar, an educational series designed to address the fulfillment challenges and trends taking place in the material handling industry. In our inaugural episode, entitled "Responding to labor management challenges in an omnichannel world," Jason Franklin discussed how the convergence of a dwindling warehouse workforce with increasing consumer product delivery expectations is creating a perfect storm for distribution center (DC) operators.
In a world where online shopping, in-store pickup and same-day (and free) shipping are typical consumer scenarios, DC operators are facing complexities on both labor and order fulfillment fronts. But as Jason explained in the webinar, these are problems that Intelligrated's GoalPost® labor management software (LMS) is specifically designed to address. This blog is a summary of the key aspects discussed.
Meeting the challenge of omnichannel consumer expectations
Whether online via a computer or mobile device, picking up the telephone or going to the store, today's consumers purchase goods from multiple channels and expect a seamless shopping experience at every turn. This adds complexity to the order fulfillment process, and subsequent strain on the labor force to meet customer service level agreements (SLAs). With multiple channels to deliver product through, a diverse mix of order priorities and the challenge of e-commerce driving more labor intensive "each" picking scenarios, DC operators must maximize the productivity of their workforce.
Adapting to an evolving workforce and labor shortages
The complexity of omnichannel order fulfillment requires a higher skill level than traditional DC labor tasks. While order fulfillment and replenishment account for 50-65 percent of labor costs in warehouse operations, the industry is in the midst of a labor transition due to several factors:
- Aging of traditional workforce and loss of "tribal" knowledge
- Introduction of millennial generation with a different set of workplace expectations
- Increasing wage competition
- Difficulty retaining employees and recouping lost training efforts
- Accommodating a multigenerational workforce
LMS is the key to addressing modern labor and omnichannel challenges
This combination of market forces is driving retailers to improve the speed and accuracy of measurable tasks such as picking, packing and replenishment and develop clear performance standards. Retailers are also deploying DC-like processes in their stores to maintain these efficiencies and help meet customer SLAs. To tackle these converging challenges, LMS helps DC managers implement a culture of accountability while creating an attractive workplace where performance is incentivized. Here are just a few of the ways Intelligrated LMS can be used to achieve these objectives:
- Develop engineered standards to create clearly defined expectations
- Communicate shared objectives to get employees working toward common goals
- Establish a fair and transparent evaluation system to urge employee accountability
- Incentivize performance through monetary and other reward programs
- Uncover areas of improvement and deploy them to the rest of the team
- Predict staffing requirements and precisely match labor needs to incoming orders and tasks
One of the true advantages of an LMS is its flexibility to adapt to your process requirements and provide immediate improvements. To realize its full potential, DC operators should seek out an LMS provider with both software and labor management expertise.
If you were unable to attend this webinar, please visit the archives section on our website to view it in its entirety. While there, be sure to register for our next episode that will explore how modern voice technology can unshackle your DC operations.